Put meal-planning on autopilot

Disclaimer: eMeals.com gave Nichole a one-year subscription in exchange for a review. All opinions are Nichole’s own.

It’s been a little over a month since I started using eMeals, and I’ve mentioned the meal-planning service in a few posts since then. One of the selling points of eMeals is that it’s a money-saver. The idea is that you choose your grocery store of choice, and it gives you a meal plan based on what’s on sale there. Our grocery store isn’t one of those available, though, so we didn’t see any savings.

As long as my grocery bill didn’t go up, though, I was really more concerned about how the food tasted. So:

Is the eMeals food any good?

Overall, I’ve been very happy with the quality and quantity of the recipes. A few of the recipes were only so-so, and only one was straight-up gross. I’m signed up for the family plan, which it says makes 3-6 servings, and we’ve had ample leftovers with each recipe. That’s been a great thing for lunch the next day.

eMeals offers 12 different meals plans, and I wanted to try out as many as possible before I wrote my review. “As many as possible” wound up being three. I started with the low-fat plan, because I’ve been doing Weight Watchers and figured they’d be compatible. The Philly Cheesesteak Stromboli and the Orange Pancakes from the plan were both simple and tasty, but I still haven’t figured out how the stromboli qualified as low-fat.

The Simple Gourmet option sounded like it would be right up our alley. I knew it wasn’t pretty much right away, though. I use convenience ingredients like cream-of-whatever soups every now and then, but the Simple Gourmet menu was packed with processed ingredients. You’re only supposed to be able to change plans once a month, but I emailed the eMeals support team and they swapped me right over to my next choice: The Clean-Eating Plan.

I was vaguely familiar with Clean Eating as a trendy diet thing, but as it turns out it’s pretty similar to the way I generally cook. The recipes are most all from scratch using fresh ingredients, but they aren’t fussy or difficult to make. The one terrible dish — a pumpkin-sausage-pasta monstrosity — we tried was from the Clean Eating plan, but every other meal from this plan has been delightful. The Sweet & Smoky Bacon-Wrapped Chicken, Chicken Pot Pie, and Orecchiette with Roasted Vegetables were especially good.

Is eMeals worth the money?

A one-year subscription to eMeals is $58, which works out to less than $5 a month. I never used the full week’s menu, so I didn’t use the provided grocery list. And I also really like doing my own meal-planning, most of the time. For someone who doesn’t have the time or inclination to put together a meal plan and grocery list every month, though, I think it’s a great deal.

But that’s not all. Right now eMeals is doing a Cyber Monday / Black Friday promotion, which you can go ahead and take advantage of by going to eMeals via this link and using the coupon code CYBER. That makes it $21 for a three-month subscription; $33 for six months; or $40 for a year. That’s a great price for a really handy service.

The bottom line on eMeals

The majority of the recipes are delicious, and it would be a huge time-saver if you used every meal on the plan. I’ve loved getting a fresh batch of recipes in my inbox every week; I’m 98 percent sure I’ll renew my subscription once it runs out.

This week’s menu plan

Despite how much I’ve enjoyed eMeals, we aren’t using any of their recipes this week because Rockford was in charge of the grocery shopping this weekend, and he’s a Seat Of His Pants shopper. He did a good job, even if he didn’t use a list.

Monday: Grocery store buffet
We’re going to be running hither and yon today, so we’ll be grazing at the grocery store for dinner.

Tuesday: Chicken pot pie
Rockford picked up a frozen chicken pot pie on his last foray to Trader Joe’s. I hope it’s good.

Wednesday: Tortellini
Easy & kid-friendly.

Thursday: Baked potato soup
Also easy and also kid-friendly, if your kids are less picky than mine.

Friday: Pizza
I’m going to be getting started on some Thanksgiving prep on Friday, so we’ll be ordering pizza for dinner.